So on Monday 14th Nov both Cumnor 1 and Cumnor 2 found themselves playing teams from Witney, so half the club decamped to Ducklington for the evening
Cumnor 1 was playing Witney 1, and we were close to full strength, including guest superstar Tom Shepherd. About the only regular missing was me due to poor health, but in Liam we had a more than capable substitute, and, importantly, acting captain.
From a Cumnor viewpoint the interesting games were where we had black, Nigel on board 2, Simon on board 4 and Liam on board 6. Nigel was a bit slow out of the blocks dropping a pawn fairly early, but then playing energetically and effectively to win it back, and then playing the knight endgame really nicely to win the game.
Here’s the first phase of the game, up to where Nigel regains his pawn
Adam spots the tactics around move 18 to win the e5 pawn, but Nigel responds well, and after a king side advance nicely combines threats against the weak pawn on d3 and checkmate on g2 (the queen coming in via h3) to win the pawn back. That said Adam’s last move, 27 Qc1 ?!, is a bit passive, a better try for white is 27 Qb3 and a typical line is
Here Black has failed to regain his pawn, but Stockfish still puts it equal – it’s not just about material! In the final position of this line black has a much better knight, a more active and more centralised king, and a pawn on g4 that is doing a reasonable job of containing white’s king side all by itself. All of this adequately compensates for the pawn minus; in endgames often activity is paramount.
The actual game continued
Just compare the white and black pieces! Black has a huge advantage all because of the superior position and activity of his knight and king. In fact in the final position Nigel managed to force resignation in two moves – so for our first tactical quiz in the position below what did he play?
A little later on Liam had a decision to make.
After a quiet start the game had exploded, and the resulting position is above. There is clearly a perpetual for black if he wants to take it. The match is very close, I believe 2-2 at that point. Is a draw enough? Well being a good captain Liam looks at the other board in play, Simon on board 4, and calls it as a win for Cumnor so he takes the draw ensuring the match win, rather than risking a loss and so the match. In my opinion in a match very much the right decision, but in fact there is a win, so for tactical quiz 2 can you find it?
So what was going on on board 4 that caused Liam to take the draw? Well Simon was finishing off a wonderful King’s Indian game with a victory for Cumnor, and so a victory in the match! Simon has made a very nice video about this game, so rather than just poorly go over the ground he has covered so well I suggest you go to “Chess Game for Cumnor 1 Kings Indian Defence Classical” It’s well worth a watch! Here is the game, which is a great thematic example of the opening – keep your eyes on the white squared bishops, understand them and you understand this game:
So 2.5-3.5 to Cumnor 1!
which with other results left us equal on points with the top team (University 1), third on goal difference:
Cumnor 2 were playing Witney 3, and carrying on their good form from last season to win 5-1 without losing a game – a fine win for Mark Crittenden on board 6 is notable. The good shape of the club is shown by two relative newcomers on the top two boards, Jeff on board 2 and Alex on board 1. This in fact was Alex’s debut and he won it very nicely, reading the tactics better than his experienced opponent, and then converting very methodically:
So the final result was
and Cumnor 2 are doing very nicely in Division 3 again:
So a great night out for the club with two excellent results! Many thanks to Witney for I’m sure being excellent hosts for the night [and the solutions to the tactical quizzes will go up when I have a little more energy]